June 14, 2021
As heat wave approaches, here's how Utahns can keep themselves and others safe
Salt Lake City — Utah is currently experiencing some of the hottest temperatures in decades.
According to the National Weather Service, Sunday was the earliest a 102-degree Fahrenheit temperature was recorded at the Salt Lake International Airport.
This comes as the state braces for several days of triple digit temperatures.
The Utah Department of Emergency Management said there are things people need to be aware of before spending any time outdoors this week.
"People face heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke," said Wade Mathews, a spokesman for the Utah Department of Emergency Management. "And it's just important to be aware of your health and how you're feeling."
Mathews cautions people who work outdoors and said they need to pay extra attention to symptoms of heat exhaustion.
"Weakness, headache, dizziness, fainting, rapid pulse, heavy sweating, cold, pale, clammy skin, and nausea and vomiting," Mathews added.
Without quick action, heat exhaustion can rapidly lead to heat stroke.
"When it's that hot, I mean, it can happen fast," said Dr. Mark Christensen, an emergency medicine physician with St. Mark's Hospital in Salt Lake City. "It can happen in a matter of hours or less. A lot of it depends on your risk factors and age. There are a lot of things that play into it."
Heat stroke is especially dangerous for the elderly, young children, or for people without adequate air conditioning. Mathews said it's especially important to never leave children or pets unattended inside cars.
Salt Lake County has more than 50 'Cool Zones' across the valley to help residents escape the heat. They can be found at county senior centers, libraries, and recreational facilities, and they are open through the summer.
Still, Mathews said the biggest resource in stretches of hot temperatures is us.
"We can prevent these things ourselves if we are aware of our situation and take the right steps," he added.
Both Mathews and Christensen said one of the biggest things we can all do is stay hydrated.
"You want to drink eight ounces of fluid per half hour if you're out in the heat, in high temperatures or sweating a lot," Mathews said.
Choosing the right clothing is another key step in battling the heat.
"Lighter clothing, cotton allows skin to breathe and absorbs sweat," Mathews said.
He added that it's important to look after each other during these hot streaks.
"Your neighbors are a resource, and you're a resource to your neighbors as well," Mathews said. "If you have elderly especially in your neighborhood, or even elderly that live far from you, make sure you're checking on them frequently."
Be Ready Utah has a detailed list of what you can do to cool yourself or your house down over the next few days.